AMs launch bid to reverse badger cull decision
TWO AMs today launched a bid to derail the Assembly Government's controversial badger cull.
Liberal Democrat Peter Black and Labour's Lorraine Barrett called for a Senedd vote reversing plans to trap and shoot badgers as part of a campaign against TB in cattle.
They tabled a motion that would deprive ministers of legal powers to cull or vaccinate the animals.
Rural Affairs Minister Elin Jones signed an order last month paving the way towards a five-year pilot cull in north Pembrokeshire where bovine TB is endemic.
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Mr Black and Ms Barrett took advantage of a 40-day window to propose a motion annulling the order. The all-party Business Committee will now decide whether to allow time for members to vote on it in a plenary session.
The cull – strongly opposed by conservationists – was due to start around April after the boundaries for it were chosen and late enough in the year to avoid leaving young badgers without a mother.
Farming groups, who blame badgers for spreading a disease that has devastated herds of cattle, have warmly welcomed the scheme.
Ms Jones and chief vet Christianne Glossop were this month jointly named Farm Champion of the Year by Farmers Weekly for their "far-sighted approach to tackling bovine TB".
Mr Black said he did not expect to get enough support to sink the policy, but he remained worried the cull lacked scientific evidence that it would work.
"It seems to me we will be catching and shooting badgers when there are other badgers moving in to that area and other animals that carry TB," he said.
"Because this is such an important subject I think there should be a vote in the full Assembly on it.
"I hope that the groups will not be whipped, because I think this is a matter of conscience in many cases.
"There are significant questions I think around this whole intention of culling badgers."
An Assembly Government spokeswoman said: "As a democratic institution, Assembly Members have the right to subject proposed legislation to scrutiny and debate and we welcome this opportunity.
"Our TB eradication programme is a comprehensive plan of action aimed at tackling the disease in all species.
"This includes measures aimed at eradicating the disease in cattle, badgers and other animals."